Today’s post is about the unmatched joy of creative gift-giving.
I visited some friends in Seattle this past weekend, and they were (as always) the most marvelous of hosts, showing me around the city and providing me with all manner of delightful sensory experiences: Mexican chocolate, the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy, chocolate martinis, massive craft supply stores with countless yellow sale signs, a walk through Gasworks Park, a stage production of 3 episodes of The Twilight Zone and much more.
I knew ahead of time that they would be awesome, though even if one’s hosts are not so awesome as mine (it may be hard for others to measure up), it is still polite to give them a token of gratitude for letting you use their shower, sleep on their couch and eat their organic granola.
Being me, I wanted to make something.
I saw this idea online some time ago: take a 6-pack of empty glass soda bottles, fill them with treats, and put nice new labels on them.
It’s always fun to make a gift thematically appropriate for the person to whom it is being given. These friends of mine are geeks. XB0x-owning, PAX-going, TMNT-loving, Mario-adoring, D&D-playing geeks, of the highest and most awesome order. So I got a 6-pack of darling little glass coke bottles and got to thinking: what’s something geek-related that also comes in a group of 6?
Did you think of what I thought of? STAT BLOCKS!!! Hence, this pack of “Stat boosters.”
Smarties obviously had to be Intelligence, and Jelly Bellys are too fun and colourful not to stand for Charisma. The others were chosen a bit more randomly. Almonds are healthy and good sources of protein, boosting one’s Constitution; pistachios are protected by hard shells, representing Strength; popcorn jumps all over the place unexpectedly when popping it, thus its representation of Dexterity; yogurt covered raisins are a healthy and delicious snack, chosen by those endowed with Wisdom. You get the idea.
(Oh, and don’t understimate the effectiveness of these Stat Boosters. As Wil Wheaton explained in his PAXEast keynote, D&D is all about the power of the imagination. Maybe if he’d had a pack of his own, swag like this (see below) wouldn’t have been present at PAX last weekend. You just never know.)
The steps are simple:
1) Empty a 6-pack of glass soda bottles, then rinse and dry them out. Make sure that you keep the cardboard carrier for the 6-pack, and also make very very sure that your bottles are entirely dry inside. If they are not, bad things will happen:
2) Make a fun new label for each bottle. The Coke bottles were trickier to label than, say, Jones Soda bottles would be, due to the inward-slanting shape of the labeled part of the bottle.
3) Glue the labels on. I found that plain old dollar store superglue worked perfectly for this.
4) Make a new label for the 6-pack, as well.
5) Fill the bottles with good things.
6) Put some kind of lid on the top of each bottle. Depending on what soda bottles you use, they may have screw-on caps that you can reuse. My Coke bottles had those good-old not-really-reusable bottle caps, so I had to rig up something new. Which I liked the look of better anyway. At first I simply cut a square of fabric and tied it over the mouth of the bottle. But I felt that didn’t look quite right, and it also wasn’t as easily resealable as, say, a cork…
To Make a Felt Cork:
1) Cut a rectangle of felt and fold it in half. (Cut it a bit bigger than you think you’ll need it to be – it’s easier to trim it down to make it fit the bottle’s mouth than to recut a whole new piece.)
2) Roll up the folded rectangle. This is also the step where you check to see that your “cork” will fit properly – not too big or too small – and make any necessary adjustments.
3) Trim any uneven edges.
4) Using a matching colour of thread, sew up the edge of the “cork” so it stays in place.
That’s it! Now send your Stat Boosters to Wil Wheaton for his next D&D campaign.